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Field reports: Mille Lacs walleye fry stocking aimed at answering questions

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently released 10 million walleye fry into Mille Lacs Lake as part of a major research project. The release of the fry -- tiny, just-hatched walleyes -- is not aimed specifically at bolstering the ...

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently released 10 million walleye fry into Mille Lacs Lake as part of a major research project.
The release of the fry - tiny, just-hatched walleyes - is not aimed specifically at bolstering the lake’s diminished walleye population. Instead, the chemically marked fry will be used to better gauge the number of wild fish being produced in the lake, DNR officials say.
The mosquito-sized baby walleye were released over several days starting May 5 at various locations around the lake. Given a special chemical marker, the fry can be differentiated from wild walleye by fisheries biologists. When biologists survey the lake’s young fish this fall, they will be able to compare the number of wild walleye to the stocked ones. This comparison will provide an estimate of the wild fry hatched in the lake this spring.
Mille Lacs currently has enough spawning walleye, but if natural production ever dropped to a level where stocking became necessary, the information from the study also will help DNR determine an appropriate stocking strategy.
Last August, the DNR committed to the stocking plan and study as a part of a long-term project aimed at improving the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population while building a closer working relationship with the Mille Lacs community.
“The walleye fry release marks another milestone in our efforts to ensure the long-term health of Mille Lacs Lake,” said Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
In addition to better understanding walleye population dynamics, Landwehr said the DNR is using regulations to help build the lake’s walleye population. The state instituted catch-and-release regulations earlier this year aimed at protecting young walleye so they could grow older and reach spawning age.
In addition to releasing walleye fry into the lake, the DNR is conducting a major study to better estimate how walleye survive after being caught by anglers and released. Data from the “hooking mortality” study will aid the agency in setting future walleye regulations.

Learn outdoor skills on Gunflint Trail
A three-day outdoors skills program for families with teens and college-age kids will be offered this summer through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Gunflint Lodge on the Gunflint Trail.
Designed to provide introductory experiences, this program includes sessions on fishing, canoeing, outdoor survival skills and other activities, including horseback riding and zip-lining.
The program runs June 24-27 and is based at Gunflint Lodge. Costs for the program range from $600 to $700 per family, and registration is required. Each family will stay in a deluxe cabin at Gunflint Lodge. For more information or to register, contact the DNR’s Linda Bylander at linda.bylander@state.mn.us or (218) 203-4347.

Eagle nests protected at Voyageurs
As it does each spring, Voyageurs National Park has temporarily closed the land and water areas around the park’s active bald eagle nests to visitor use during their critical nesting period.
Some eagle pairs nest in late March and early April and others may not initiate nesting until late April or early May, park officials said. The closed areas are marked with closure signs and buoys.
Park officials are asking both motorized and nonmotorized watercraft users to not travel within 200 yards of nests where bald eagles are actively nesting during the closure period - early May through mid-August. After the young leave the nest, these temporarily closed park areas will be reopened for public use.

Related Topics: FISHING
Sam Cook is a freelance writer for the News Tribune. Reach him at cooksam48@gmail.com or find his Facebook page at facebook.com/sam.cook.5249.
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